Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Honduras Updates: still a coup

The "crime" for which Zelaya was "arrested" seems to be for holding a non-binding referendum: I keep hearing people say Zelaya wanted to be "president for life" but other reports refer to him seeking "a second term." The suspicion is that his membership in ALBA has turned him into a potential democratic dictator...
In October 2008, Zelaya joined the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA in Spanish), a regional alliance organized by Chávez that includes Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Cuba, Nicaragua, Honduras, Dominica, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Antigua and Barbuda. Member states receive subsidies coming largely from Venezuelan oil earnings. One provision, which Zelaya chose not to ratify, calls for common defense in case one of the member states is attacked by the US.

But those defending the coup as constitutional have a heck of a lot of explaining to do:
The broadcast of at least some news media is currently suppressed in Honduras, with members of the Honduran military reportedly shutting down at least one radio station and halting TV transmission of teleSUR and CNN en Español.

Two of the coup-plotters, Army chief Romeo Vásquez Velásquez and head of the Honduran Air Force General Luis Javier Prince Suazo are graduates of the U.S. Army School of the Americas. In a sickeningly sweet example of the interaction between political economy and culture, the documentary "School of the Americas Assassins" went up 29% in popularity on this week.

The media is divided among familiar lines, with the relatively conservative Washington Post reporting that "[t]housands of Hondurans rallied Tuesday in the central plaza of the capital, Tegucigalpa, to support the forced removal of Zelaya and to shout their support for the armed forces." How many is thousands? I'm pretty sure that piece of information is being cut and pasted as spin. The Associated Press, famous now as an Obama-bashing, reactionary wire service, reports Zelaya is accused of allowing "tons of cocaine" to flow through his country. We didn't hear anybody complain about this before because? The AP continues: "In October, Zelaya proposed legalizing drug use as a way of reducing the violence. He also had pledged to double the country's police force, which reached 13,500 last year, up from 7,000 in 2005, according to the State Department report."

At 6:24 AM on Wednesday, neither Zelaya nor Honduras is on the short list of "in the news" news on Googlenews. Mariah Carey is.

My unabashedly liberal friend Stephen Heidt points out that "There's something fishy about this story. If, as seems true, Zelaya was after a naked power grab, and it was illegal and universally condemned by the Congress, Supreme Court, and military, then why was he not impeached? ...why deport him? Why not put him on trial in Honduras?" At worst, I agree with Stephen: "this was the precursor to the naked power grab, not the naked power grab."

If this is a naked power grab question, and those defending the coup are prepared to say that extraconstitutional means are justified to counter constitutionally-allowed attempts to change the constitution (legal naked power grabs) then that is a lot different than saying extraconstitutional means are justified in response to unconsitutional, illegal naked power grabs. Because at the very least, that position says "might makes right, which side are you on?" And the defenders of the coup can pick their side and I'll pick mine. But if working people have an interest in a consistent rule of law, then the right thing to do is unconditionally condemn the coup, then criticize and encourage remedies to Zelaya's excesses.

If, on the other hand, this is the class war and there is no rule of law...well? But I'm hesitant to say it's that simple yet.

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